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Public Law 92-195
THE WILD FREE-ROAMING HORSES AND BURROS ACT


(16 U.S.C. 1331)

Sec. 1

To require the protection, management, and control of wild free- roaming horses
and burros on public lands. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Congress finds and
declares that wild free-roaming horses and burros are living symbols of the historic
and pioneer spirit of the West; that they contribute to the diversity of life forms
within the Nation and enrich the lives of the American people; and that these horses
and burros are fast disappearing from the American scene. It is the policy of Congress
that wild free-roaming horses and burros shall be protected from capture, branding,
harassment, or death; and to accomplish this they are to be considered in the area
where presently found, as an integral part of the natural system of the public lands.

Sec. 2.

As used in this Act-

(a) "Secretary" means the Secretary of the Interior when used in connection with
public lands administered by him through the Bureau of Land Management and the
Secretary of Agriculture in connection with public lands administered by him
through the Forest Service;

(b) "wild free-roaming horses and burros" means all unbranded and unclaimed horses
and burros on public lands of the United States;

(c) "range" means the amount of land necessary to sustain an existing herd or herds
of wild free-roaming horses and burros, which does not exceed their known territorial
limits, and which is devoted principally but not necessarily exclusively to their
welfare in keeping with the multiple-use management concept for the public lands;

(d) "herd" means one or more stallions and his mares; and

(e) "public lands" means any lands administered by the Secretary of the Interior
through the Bureau of Land Management or by the Secretary of Agriculture through
the Forest Service.

(f) "excess animals" means wild free-roaming horses or burros (1) which have been
removed from an area by the Secretary pursuant to application law or, (2) which must
be removed from an area in order to preserve and maintain a thriving natural
ecological balance and multiple-use relationship in that area.

Sec. 3.

(a) All wild free-roaming horses and burros are hereby declared to be under the
jurisdiction of the Secretary for the purpose of management and protection in
accordance with the provisions of this Act. The Secretary is authorized and
directed to protect and manage wild free-roaming horses and burros as components
of the public lands, and he may designate and maintain specific ranges on public
lands as sanctuaries for their protection and preservation, where the Secretary
after consultation with the wildlife agency of the State wherein any such range
is proposed and with the Advisory Board established in section 7 of this Act deems
such action desirable. The Secretary shall manage wild free-roaming horses and
burros in a manner that is designed to achieve and maintain a thriving natural
ecological balance on the public lands. He shall consider the recommendations of
qualified scientists in the field of biology and ecology, some of whom shall be
independent of both Federal and State agencies and may include members of the
Advisory Board established in section 7 of this Act. All management activities
shall be at the minimal feasible level and shall be carried out in consultation
with the wildlife agency of the State wherein such lands are located in order to
protect the natural ecological balance of all wildlife species which inhabit such
lands, particularly endangered wildlife species. Any adjustments in forage
allocations on any such lands shall take into consideration the needs of other
wildlife species which inhabit such lands.

(b)

(1) The Secretary shall maintain a current inventory of wild free-roaming horses
and burros on given areas of the public lands. The purpose of such inventory
shall be to: make determinations as to whether and where an overpopulation exists
and whether action should be taken to remove excess animals; determine
appropriate management levels of wild free-roaming horses and burros on these
areas of the public lands; and determine whether appropriate management levels
should be achieved by the removal or destruction of excess animals, or other
options (such as sterilization, or natural controls on population levels). In
making such determinations the Secretary shall consult with the United States
Fish and Wildlife Service, wildlife agencies of the State or States wherein
wild free-roaming horses and burros are located, such individuals independent
of Federal and State government as have been recommended by the National Academy
of Sciences, and such other individuals whom he determines have scientific
expertise and special knowledge of wild horse and burro protection, wild-life
management and animal husbandry as related to rangeland management.

(2) Where the Secretary determines on the basis of (i) the current inventory of
lands within his jurisdiction; (ii) information contained in any land use planning
completed pursuant to section 202 of the Federal Land Policy and Management
Act of 1976; (iii) information contained in court ordered environmental impact
statements as defined in section 2 of the Public Rangelands Improvement Act of
1978; and (iv) such additional information as becomes available to him from time
to time, including that information developed in the research study mandated by
this section, or in the absence of the information contained in (i-iv) above on
the basis of all information currently available to him, that an overpopulation
exists on a given area of the public lands and that action is necessary to remove
excess animals, he shall immediately remove excess animals from the range so as
to achieve appropriate management levels. Such action shall be taken, in the
following order and priority, until all excess animals have been removed so as
to restore a thriving natural ecological balance to the range, and protect the
range from the deterioration associated with overpopulation:

(a) The Secretary shall order old, sick, or lame animals to be destroyed in the
most humane manner possible;

(b) The Secretary shall cause such number of additional excess wild free-roaming
horses and burros to be humanely captured and removed for private maintenance
and care for which he determines an adoption demand exists by qualified
individuals, and for which he determines he can assure humane treatment and care
(including proper transportation, feeding, and handling): Provided, That, not
more than four animals may be adopted per year by any individual unless the
Secretary determines in writing that such individual is capable of humanely
caring for more than four animals, including the transportation of such animals
by the adopting party; and [PRIA 10/25/1978]

(c) The Secretary shall cause additional excess wild free roaming horses and
burros for which an adoption demand by qualified individuals does not exist to
be destroyed in the most humane and cost efficient manner possible.

(1) Where excess animals have been transferred to a qualified individual for adoption
and private maintenance pursuant to this Act and the Secretary determines that such
individual has provided humane conditions, treatment and care for such animal or
animals for a period of one year, the Secretary is authorized upon application by
the transferee to grant title to not more than four animals to the transferee at the
end of the one-year period.

(d) Wild free-roaming horses and burros or their remains shall lose their status as
wild free-roaming horses or burros and shall no longer be considered as falling
within the purview of this Act- (1) upon passage of title pursuant to subsection (c)
except for the limitation of subsection (c)(1) of this section, or (2) if they have
been transferred for private maintenance or adoption pursuant to this Act and die
of natural causes before passage of title; or (3) upon destruction by the Secretary
or his designee pursuant to subsection (b) of this section; or (4) if they die of
natural causes on the public lands or on private lands where maintained thereon
pursuant to section 4 and disposal is authorized by the Secretary or his designee;
or (5) upon destruction or death for purposes of or incident to the program
authorized in section 3 of this Act; Provided, That no wild free-roaming horse or
burro or its remains may be sold or transferred for consideration for processing
into commercial products.

(3) For the purpose of furthering knowledge of wild horse and burro population
dynamics and their interrelationship with wildlife, forage and water resources,
and assisting him in making his determination as to what constitutes excess animals,
the Secretary shall contract for a research study of such animals with such
individuals independent of Federal and State government as may be recommended by
the National Academy of Sciences for having scientific expertise and special
knowledge of wild horse and burro protection, wildlife management and animal
husbandry as related to rangeland management. The terms and outline of such
research study shall be determined by a redesign panel to be appointed by the
President of the National Academy of Sciences. Such study shall be completed
and submitted by the Secretary to the Senate and House of Representatives on
or before January 1, 1983.

Sec. 4.

If wild free-roaming horses or burros stray from public lands onto privately owned
land, the owners of such land may inform the nearest Federal marshal or agent of
the Secretary, who shall arrange to have the animals removed. In no event shall
such wild free-roaming horses and burros be destroyed except by the agents of the
Secretary. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit a private
landowner from maintaining wild free-roaming horses or burros on his private
lands, or lands leased from the Government, if he does so in a manner that
protects them from harassment, and if the animals were not willfully removed
or enticed from the public lands. Any individuals who maintain such wild
free-roaming horses and burros on their private lands or lands leased from
the Government shall notify the appropriate agent of the Secretary and supply
him with a reasonable approximation of the number of animals so maintained.

Sec. 5.

A person claiming ownership of a horse or burro on the public lands shall be
entitled to recover it only if recovery is permissible under the branding and
estray laws of the State in which the animal is found.

Sec. 6.

The Secretary is authorized to enter into cooperative agreements with other
landowners and with the State and local governmental agencies and may issue
such regulations as he deems necessary for the furtherance of the purposes of
this Act.

Sec. 7.

The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture are authorized
and directed to appoint a joint advisory board of not more than nine members
to advise them on any matter relating to wild free-roaming horses and burros
and their management and protection. They shall select as advisers persons who
are not employees of the Federal or State Governments and whom they deem to
have special knowledge about protection of horses and burros, management of
wildlife, animal husbandry, or natural resources management. Members of this
board shall not receive reimbursement except for travel and other expenditures
necessary in connection with their services.

Sec. 8.

(a) Any person who—

(1) willfully removes or attempts to remove a wild free-roaming horse or burro
from the public lands, without authority from the Secretary, or

(2) converts a wild free-roaming horse or burro to private use, without
authority from the Secretary, or

(3) maliciously causes the death or harassment of any wild free-roaming horse
or burro, or

(4) processes or permits to be processed into commercial products the remains
of a wild free-roaming horse or burro, or

(5) sells, directly or indirectly, a wild free-roaming horse or burro maintained
on private or leased land pursuant to section 4 of this Act, or the remains
thereof, or

(6) willfully violates a regulation issued pursuant to this Act, shall be subject
to a fine of not more than $2,000, or imprisonment for not more than one year,
or both. Any person so charged with such violation by the Secretary may be
tried and sentenced by any United States commissioner or magistrate designated
for that purpose by the court by which he was appointed, in the same manner and
subject to the same conditions as provided for in section 3401, title 18,
United States Code.

(b) Any employee designated by the Secretary of the Interior or the Secretary
of Agriculture shall have power, without warrant, to arrest any person
committing in the presence of such employee a violation of this Act or any
regulation made pursuant thereto, and to take such person immediately for
examination or trail before an officer or court of competent jurisdiction,
and shall have power to execute any warrant or other process issued by an
officer or court of competent jurisdiction to enforce the provisions of this
Act or regulations made pursuant thereto. Any judge of a court established
under the laws of the United States, or any United States magistrate may,
within his respective jurisdiction, upon proper oath or affirmation showing
probable cause, issue warrants in all such cases.

Sec. 9

In administering this Act, the Secretary may use or contract for the use of
helicopters or, for the purpose of transporting captured animals, motor
vehicles. Such use shall be undertaken only after a public hearing and under
the direct supervision of the Secretary or of a duly authorized official or
employee of the Department. The provisions of subsection (a) of the Act of
September 8, 1959 (73 Stat. 470; 18 U.S.C. 47(a)) shall not be applicable
to such use. Such use shall be in accordance with humane procedures
prescribed by the Secretary.

Sec. 10.

Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Secretary to relocate
wild free-roaming horses or burros to areas of the public lands where they
do not presently exist.

Sec. 11.

After the expiration of thirty calendar months following the date of enactment
of this Act, and every twenty-four calendar months thereafter, the
Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture will submit to Congress a joint
report on the administration of this Act, including a summary of enforcement
and/or other actions taken thereunder, costs, and such recommendations for
legislative or other actions he might deem appropriate.

The Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture shall consult
with respect to the implementation and enforcement of this Act and to the
maximum feasible extent coordinate the activities of their respective
departments and in the implementation and enforcement of this Act. The
Secretaries are authorized and directed to undertake those studies of the
habits of wild free-roaming horses and burros that they may deem necessary
in order to carry out the provisions of this Act.

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